Federal Judge On Obscenity Case Posted Porn Images On His Web Server

from the is-that-good-or-bad? dept

A lot of attention is suddenly getting turned on judge Alex Kozinski, the 9th Circuit chief judge, who (while in the middle of a trial about obscenity) was discovered to have posted pornographic images to his web server in a way in which they were accessible to the public. He didn't post them to a specific page or anything. It's just that he put them in an unprotected directory, and if you knew where to look, you could find them. Basically, it looks like he was just using the directory for personal storage, not realizing that it was publicly accessible, though, at one point he appears to claim he uploaded the images by accident. Some of the images were... extreme. Judge Kozinski described them as "funny" and "I think it's odd and interesting. It's part of life."

Some are saying that he should recuse himself from the obscenity trial, noting that he's no longer objective. However, considering that obscenity is supposed to be based on local standards, that doesn't seem right. If even the judge finds those types of images "funny" or "interesting" and "a part of life," then perhaps that's making it pretty clear that they're not obscene. Saying he needs to recuse himself seems to be presupposing that the images are obscene, which doesn't seem quite right. Rather than being used as a way to tar the judge, doesn't this just raise questions about obscenity laws in the first place?
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Filed Under: alex kozinski, judges, obscenity

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  1. identicon
    OldYeller, 12 Jun 2008 @ 7:16am

    You're both right and wrong (waffles for breakfast, anyone?)...

    You're right, Mike, in that the possession of porn is not necessarily grounds for the judge to have to recuse himself. That would be like a traffic-court judge being asked to recuse himself from all speeding cases because he got a speeding ticket himself.

    What's relevant in this case is that an obscenity trial is based on subjective community standards as to what "obscene" is. Since the judge is obviously not of the opinion that all porn is obscene, he represents the mainstream in that regard. Unfortunately, the subjective nature of deciding whether the judge's content is obscene or not will now become a distraction, and has the potential to influence the jurors if they become aware of the news.

    Since his main responsibility is to ensure a fair trial, he should recuse himself, not because it's wrong to own porn, but to remove any doubt or appeal that the jury was influenced by thinking about this mid-trial revelation instead of the case itself.

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